The sight of five designated players on the pitch at one time never materialized and the result was somewhat anti-climactic but the Fire hope that the first half of tonight's match will be more indicative of things to come. Freddie Ljungberg impressed in the first 45 minutes with several runs and near misses that didn't quite materialize into scores. The Fire didn't produce a shot on target in the first half but did challenge the Red Bulls with all three of their designated players on the field.
New York controlled a majority of the second half and the Fire seldom retaliated with any real threat to score. Despite losing Thierry Henry just before half time to a muscle strain, the Red Bulls came out and controlled possesion and had the bulk of the scoring chances. Another outstanding performance by rookie keeper Sean Johnson salvaged the point for the home side.
Sean Johnson (7) - Johnson has cemented himseld as the starting goalkeeper. Several big saves (7 total) kept New York off the score board. Johnson was also vocal and seemingly in control of his backline. Probably man of the match for the second consecutive week. An impressive feat considering the amount of talent on the pitch tonight.
Dasan Robinson (6) - Johnson did well in the first half to combat Henry on several occasions. Was subbed out in the 59th in favor of Steve Kinney possibly due to fatigue or the fact that Henry had departed and De Los Cobos was more comfortable with the rookie against an Henry-less attack.
Krzyzstof Krol (5) - Struggled a bit against Dane Richards and Mac Kandji. He was probably the weakest of the Fire defenders tonight.
CJ Brown (5) - Henry went by him like a blur at one point in the first half resulting in a shot on goal but otherwise Brown was effective enough against the Henry-Angel combination to keep them scoreless (although Johnson had alot to do with that).
Wilman Conde (6) - Conde seemed more like the defender that has earned back to back MLS All Star appearances. Stayed home most of the night and really only had one error, an 80th minute muff that resulted in a Juan Pablo Angel shot that went wide.
Logan Pause (6) - Pause played a commendable game against a dangerous New York attack. Provided a huge blocked shot in the 87th minute on a clear look near the top of the box.
Baggio Husidic (5) - Played the entire match as a second defensive midfielder next to Pause. Disappeared in the second half.
Marco Pappa (5) - Seemed a little bit off his game and never really got into a dangerous position to score. Had three shots at goal but only one was harmlessly on net in the 51st minute. Not one of Pappa's better efforts.
Mike Banner (5) - De Los Cobos loves his effort but the drop off from Nyarko to Banner is more than substantial. Despite the effort, he's a turnover machine with the ball at his feet. Missed a good look at goal on a feed from McBride in the 14th minute.
Freddie Ljungberg (7) - Was involved in just about every dangerous effort on the Fire's side. Nearly missed his first Fire goal on a sliding attempt off a cross from McBride in the first half. Not as effective in the second half as the Fire seemed to have trouble holding possesion.
Brian McBride (6) - Involved in a few dangerous chances as the feeder rather than the scorer. Subbed out in the 56th minute for Castillo. McBride played well and probably would have been better served to stay in the match with Castillo rather than being replaced by him.
Nery Castillo (5) - Seems to still be trying to regain his fitness. Hasn't played a competitive match in some time, that combined with the need to gain familiarity with teammates resulted in little real danger from Castillo. Offsides several times.
Steve Kinney (5) - Came on for Robinson in the 59th minute. The entire team struggled to gain possesion in the second half and Kinney was not as impressive as he has been in previous efforts.
Deris Umanzor (NR) - Came on in the 91st minute for Pappa. Not enough time to really rate.
De Los Cobos was asked about the decision to start Brian McBride over Collins John and his answer was a bit surprising. "Even though Collins John scored in the last match I think he did not play good. My role as a coach is to demand that the players give 100%...in practice and training Collins does not give us what we need. This player has big qualities but he doesn't play good. I need to put on the field eleven players with a very good fitness level and a very good attitude." Ouch.
You can hear the entire De Los Cobos press conference on the Fire Confidential podcast page here.
The attendance was 21,868.